Mitchell Reports | February 08, 2013
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>> the sequester looming over the white house and the congress at the end of the month. joining us for our daily fix a special roundtable nbc's david gregory , moderator of "meet the press" chris caliz sdmr a, managing editor of post politics.com, and washington post editorial columnist ruth marcus . welcome all. david taking the 30,000 feet, you, what do we expect from the president? what's the tone? what's the -- you know, how specific, how granular does he get in this speech coming down from the heights of the second inaugural?
>> i do think his political playbook has changed. you see him putting a lot of initiatived out there right now. working the outside game a lot more strongly than he has. i think he wants to get out of the business of setting up the idea of a big grabbed bargain with republicans that may fail. he wants to put a lot out there and work as much of his game. not to steel from chris's piece, though, today i think he makes a good point. he is coming at this with an ambitious agenda at a time when he is feeling pretty confident. this is a moment of great confidence for any president. you've just won re-election. you come to the start of your second term. you say okay, i'm going to walk with a bit more strength in my gate here.
>> i'm the big sheriff in town, right is this.
>> look, this is -- if there's ever a time where you can say i have been validated, it is -- you could say, well, the 2008 election was about george bush , not about barack obama . it's hard to say that the 2012 election was about anything other than this was a referendum on barack obama and how he had handled this first four years in office. he won by a larger margin than i certainly thought he would. he won by a larger margin than many people thought he would. david is right. he is going in. this is his chance. we've seen it on immigration, guns, his approach to the fiscal cliff, his approach to the debt ceiling. everyinning tonally is this is -- it's not my way or the highway, but it's much more my way than, hey, let's meet in the middle . it's sort of like i won, deal with this reality, and let's move forward. we'll see. it's actually worked pretty good effect thus far on things like the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling. republicans will try to draw a line somewhere. i'm not sure why yet.
>> they thought they could draw it on national security with chuck hagel , and we've seen in the last 48 hours the president picked up the phone and he cauldron widen. he hasn't called too many senators too often, even in his own party. he cauldron widen because they had a real obstacle, and he knew that his cia nominee, his close friend, someone he is really eager to have confirmed john brennan , was in trouble going to that hearing. now not so much trouble.
>> not so much trouble. these hearings are always as much about the -- using the moment as a lever to dislodge things that congress wants as they are about the nominee himself. i don't think there were a lot of questions about john brennan 's kwaul ficks for the job. if i might say to live township the transparency that's been happy to profess. can i go back to the state of the union ? i want to add a little bit of a note of caution to all this presidential huffing and puffing, which is yes, he was re-elected and re-elected by wide margins, but he has an extraordinarily full agenda. it's felt like a four-ring circus in washington this week. immigration, sequester, guns, nominees. he has a lot of very -- he has both a ticking clock and a congress that has especially on the republican side different -- way different interests and different political calculations, so he is going to -- as much as he might want to swagger, swagger, swagger, things are only going to get done if we meet somewhere in the middle and not -- because it's not going to get done on his terms. snoo in fact, leon panetta 's passionate warning in that georgetown speech, you know, first on "meet the press" last weekend and then reinforced, there is going to be a farewell ceremony for him today at fort mcnair , but he really believes and i have talked to him like you have, david , that this sequester is -- because of its sort of blunder bust approach that it does not permit the pentagon to make intelligent choices about what is needed, so it is going to get to readiness. ready city council what we need.
>> this is the absurdness of washington.
>> the white house proposed the --
>> proposing to get agreement on this. now the new strategy is, yeah, but you can't let that sequester happen because the spending cuts would be so awful when, in fact, there are democrats like dick durbin who will be on the program sunday who have said he doesn't really have a problem with the amount of spending cuts in the pentagon. it's a matter of how you go about doing it. republicans i think also have some leverage here by saying, you know, if you really get us down to it, if have to swallow these spending cuts, we're going take them because that might be good. you got your revenues there. zoolt sequester, we don't like it, but before it on.
>> there's a lot of pain. particularly if are you from virginia and you have military cuts coming down your way , this is tough. spending cuts are tough. the politics are so hard for the left on this as whether the president is going to stand up. he has -- he is dealing with the drone fight on the left, and this is what's remarkable about all of this. why don't rereview the statutory authority you have given to the president to kill the people he thinks he has to kill. that's the law on the books.
>> and to eavesdrop.
>> and to detain people as well. which now we do on naval ships as john brennan said, floating around because you have to give him has beenus corpus here. there is not an appetite to take this on.
>> there has been a lot of bubbling up about chuck hagel , and i have checked within the last hour. the white house says absolutely committed to chuck hagel . you know, i heard david brooks suggest last week or two weeks ago to you --
>> last week, yeah.
>> on "meet the press" that he should consider saying to the president i'm going to step back because i performed so badly at the hearing. they are absolutely firm. they're pressing carl levin . schedule that vote on tuesday. get it out of the way. the other questions about his finances were all answered. go well beyond levin to inhoff today and more than what has been asked of a nominee. they want him in brussels next month.
>> could he step back? sure. it just seems very unlikely. he has come this far, number one. number two, this idea -- i always thought this idea that they would filibuster or threaten to filibuster chuck hagel , there is absolutely zero historical precedent for it.
>> john mccain and --
>> yes, it's not going to happen, and if it's a straight up or down vote where he needs to get 51 votes, are four democrats or democratic lawmakers -- five or six democratic line senators going to break with the president of the united states when he has made clear this is his guy? it just feels like a lot of chatter about -- unless chuck hagel pulls back, he is going to have at least 51 votes.
>> i was told today he was meeting with the navy secretary .
>> want a lot, but he has a lot of republicans at hand. i don't stee.
>> we'll have to leave it there. keep all your thoughts bubbling because there's "meet the press" on sunday.
>> we have eric can't or and dick durbin , and we'll talk about the politics of the drone program. look ahead to the state of the wrun.
>> exciting. we'll be there with you on the state of the union . thank you, david . ask chuck and have a great weekend.